Many top American golfers won’t play in Olympics. Which might play in 3M Open?

Tournament director promises some "big names" will be committing over the next few weeks.

Many top American golfers won’t play in Olympics. Which might play in 3M Open?

A 2020 event without fans has made the local appetite for next month’s 3M Open golf tournament all the greater, tournament executive director Hollis Cavner said.

“We’re getting ticket sales from all over the state, which is fun. South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin,” Cavner said Monday during 3M Open media at TPC Twin Cities. “People are coming in. … I’ve heard these exact words: ‘I don’t really care who’s playing, I’m coming to see them.’ ”

And Cavner’s response: “We’ve got some really good guys playing.”

Who exactly remains to be seen. Last week, the PGA Tour event announced commitments from Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen.

“We’ve got big names coming in,” Cavner said.

More of those will be announced in the coming weeks. Cavner said the plan moving forward is to announce one big name a week leading up to the tournament, which kicks off with Round 1 on Thursday, July 22, at the TPC course in Blaine. So there are other higher-profile golfers locked in.

The tournament doesn’t yet seem to have commitments from the likes of Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson, though it’s working on those two players. Both have previously competed in Blaine.

“We have been in constant talks with (Mickelson) … just like everybody,” Cavner said. “We’re talking to every single person — DJ, all of them. It’s a constant deal of, ‘Hey, we want you here. You’ve got to get here.’ We’re working with all of them to make sure that things work out.”

It’s no secret the 3M Open’s date is less than ideal. The tournament is sandwiched between The Open Championship — played this year at Royal St. George’s in England — and the Olympics in Tokyo.

“It’s tough on us. Because they’ve moved the Olympics (to 2021), this is what happened,” Cavner said. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t even be dealing with this. But I think, for one year, I can put up with anything.”

Plus, Cavner noted, not everyone can play in the Olympics — or wants to, for that matter. Garcia, Johnson, Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Tyrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott all have opted out of competing in Tokyo, which has committed to staging the Games despite coronavirus concerns from local health officials.

The U.S. can only send four golfers, and they are Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau.

So, while the Olympics will prevent many top international players from coming to Minnesota, it could open the door for some Americans to play here. Those who aren’t playing in the Olympics will have the weekend following the 3M Open off.

Americans who won’t play in Tokyo include Johnson, Mickelson, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Jason Kokrak and — one of the ultimate name draws — Jordan Spieth.

Spieth’s current schedule has him playing only The Open Championship between the mid-June U.S. Open and the World Golf Championship event in early August.

Finau, who finished in a tie for third at the 2020 3M Open, seems like a good bet to play again this year. As does 2019 tournament champion Matthew Wolff.

Players don’t have to commit until 4 p.m. Central on the Friday the week before the tournament begins. So, Cavner and Co. could see a big name or two commit to the 3M Open should they miss the cut at The Open.

“We’ve got some seriously big names that are coming. We’re going to have a good field. I’m happy,” Cavner said. “Just having the fans back, and the way sales have went, we’re thrilled. … If we don’t get everybody that we really want, I’m not going to worry about it this year, because I know where we’re headed for the future and I know the event continues to grow, and that’s the main thing.”